Darron Cummings/Associated Press
Indiana Pacers superstar Paul George is reportedly focused on his legacy more so than money and believes he can help return the Los Angeles Lakers to prominence.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, George grew up in Palmdale, California, as a Kobe Bryant fan and has a desire to play for the franchise that Bryant anchored for so many years.
George has long been linked to the Lakers, and Amick reported in February that he was “hell-bent” on eventually joining L.A.
The 27-year-old is set to enter the final year of his contract before having the option to opt out during the 2018 offseason, per Spotrac.
Indiana was seemingly dealt a major blow Thursday in terms of its chances of signing George to a long-term deal.
Due to the fact that he was not named to an All-NBA team, George is not eligible for a “super-max” contract, which would have allowed the Pacers to offer him the richest contract in NBA history by adding five years and $210 million, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst.
Indiana will still have that option if George makes an All-NBA team next year, but it would also risk allowing PG-13 to walk in free agency without getting anything in return.
The Lakers are stocked with young, talented players including D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson. They also hold the No. 2 overall selection in the 2017 NBA draft.
That means Los Angeles could be proactive by putting together a package to trade for George, or it could play the waiting game and hope he hits the open market as expected.
George averaged a career-high 23.7 points per game in 2016-17, and he is seemingly the exact type of player the Lakers need to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.